Farm Sanctuary Challenges USDA's "Natural" Labeling Standards

Photograph of a cute duck, resident of Animal Acres.

Following is an article from Farm Sanctuaries magazine, Winter 2010. It proves that we have the power to speak up and make changes. Get involved, sign petitions, do whatever you can to help.....every bit counts!

What is "natural" food? The vast majority of U.S. consumers believe that the "natural" label on a meat or poultry product indicates something meaningful about how the animals whose bodies constitute the product were raised. In fact, in a national survey, 73% of consumers said they consider it inappropriate to label as "natural" meat from animals denied access to the outdoors, confined in crowded cages, or forced to stand on metal or concrete floors. Yet the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) standards for the label allow all that and more. Currently, "natural" animal products are evaluated using only two criteria: the presence of artificial additives and the degree of processing.
In response to a 2006 petition from Hormel Foods, the USDA has proposed regulations that would only further codify these standards. But in 2007 we submitted out own petition, accompanied by the aforementioned consumer survey, asking the agency to issue regulations for "natural" labeling that address the treatment and living conditions of animals raised for food. In September 2009, the USDA finally responded by formally acknowledging our petition in the Federal Register. And based on our urgings and similar feedback submitted by other parties, the USDA solicited public comments through min-November 2009 on the issue of whether it's "natural" labeling standards should include criteria on how animals are raised.
We are grateful to all of you who answered our call to action and contacted the USDA to speak up against deceptive labeling that whitewashes animal abuse and exploits consumer trust. Together, we can create meaningful change. Find more opportunities to make a difference and lean more about our Truth Behind Labels Campaign at farmsanctuary.org/truthbehind.

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